The “new normal” for the fashion industry—as with most of the world—is operating virtually and in-person with proper safety measures. Recently, a team from Kate Spade tuned in with LIM faculty, staff, and students to share the changes they have made to make this shift. The team included Mark Topolosky, Jenna Lopresti, Karen Piro, Maggie Keaveny, Courtney Scheffler, Alana LaViale, who focused on their visual merchandising process, and discussed the brand, the importance of working with regions, global sustainable concepts, and virtual technology they use.
In sharing the behind the scenes of Kate Spade, the team offered an appealing virtual presentation. They shared photos of vision boards, colorful showroom layouts, digital mockups of displays, and spoke on each step in the merchandising process. They highlighted the visual guidelines for each store to ensure consistency in the shopping atmosphere in every Kate Spade store. I found the prototyping techniques they use for storefronts interesting and modern; they create designs and layouts virtually, then put together a 4-D option and a 2-D option. They shared the importance of looking at what each region needs for their stores—smaller stores can operate with the 2-D option—all while conveying the same message to the customer.
After the presentation, Nina Fiddian-Green, LIM's Assistant Vice President of Career and Internship Services, moderated questions from students:
One student asked Mark, who works in visual merchandising (VM), “What helped you decide to go into this creative, hands-on field? How would one know VM is for them?”
Mark: “Working in a store, getting exposure to customers, and how each department comes together is so inspiring. Always keep your eyes open, see what other brands are doing, go to museums. It’s really about experiences and educating yourself with courses and reading.”
Before the conclusion of the event, a student asked, “How sustainability & Culture is integrated into Kate Spade’s workplace?” They responded by discussing their partnership with textile companies to work on sustainability. In terms of culture, they spoke on the importance of globalization at Kate Spade. They are always in communication about the different needs and trends in each country and region. Lastly, they shared the implementation of diversity and inclusion at Kate Spade. They noted that they are looking at the demographics of the Kate Spade workforce and are targeting key areas to make positive changes in every department.
Even as a Fashion Media student I was intrigued by the creative processes that go into keeping the Kate Spade operating and innovating through tough times like these. It was inspiring to hear the importance of sustainability and culture to the brand and how students can make their way into a career like visual merchandising. It was a pleasure having the team from Kate Spade speak, and it will be great to highlight future learning experiences with them.
Tune in for more Career Conversations events about how LIM is connecting their students to the careers they desire.